• Integration of metabolomics, genomics, and immune phenotypes reveals the causal roles of metabolites in disease.

      Chu, Xiaojing; Jaeger, Martin; Beumer, Joep; Bakker, Olivier B; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raul; Oosting, Marije; Smeekens, Sanne P; Moorlag, Simone; Mourits, Vera P; Koeken, Valerie A C M; et al. (BMC, 2021-07-06)
      Background: Recent studies highlight the role of metabolites in immune diseases, but it remains unknown how much of this effect is driven by genetic and non-genetic host factors. Result: We systematically investigate circulating metabolites in a cohort of 500 healthy subjects (500FG) in whom immune function and activity are deeply measured and whose genetics are profiled. Our data reveal that several major metabolic pathways, including the alanine/glutamate pathway and the arachidonic acid pathway, have a strong impact on cytokine production in response to ex vivo stimulation. We also examine the genetic regulation of metabolites associated with immune phenotypes through genome-wide association analysis and identify 29 significant loci, including eight novel independent loci. Of these, one locus (rs174584-FADS2) associated with arachidonic acid metabolism is causally associated with Crohn's disease, suggesting it is a potential therapeutic target. Conclusion: This study provides a comprehensive map of the integration between the blood metabolome and immune phenotypes, reveals novel genetic factors that regulate blood metabolite concentrations, and proposes an integrative approach for identifying new disease treatment targets.
    • Lactate dehydrogenase B regulates macrophage metabolism in the tumor microenvironment.

      Frank, Ann-Christin; Raue, Rebecca; Fuhrmann, Dominik C; Sirait-Fischer, Evelyn; Reuse, Carsten; Weigert, Andreas; Lütjohann, Dieter; Hiller, Karsten; Syed, Shahzad Nawaz; Brüne, Bernhard; et al. (Ivyspring International publisher, 2021-06-04)
      Background: Glucose metabolism in the tumor-microenvironment is a fundamental hallmark for tumor growth and intervention therein remains an attractive option for anti-tumor therapy. Whether tumor-derived factors such as microRNAs (miRs) regulate glucose metabolism in stromal cells, especially in tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs), to hijack them for trophic support, remains elusive. Methods: Ago-RIP-Seq identified macrophage lactate dehydrogenase B (LDHB) as a target of tumor-derived miR-375 in both 2D/3D cocultures and in murine TAMs from a xenograft mouse model. The prognostic value was analyzed by ISH and multiplex IHC of breast cancer patient tissues. Functional consequences of the miR-375-LDHB axis in TAMs were investigated upon mimic/antagomir treatment by live metabolic flux assays, GC/MS, qPCR, Western blot, lentiviral knockdown and FACS. The therapeutic potential of a combinatorial miR-375-decoy/simvastatin treatment was validated by live cell imaging. Results: Macrophage LDHB decreased in murine and human breast carcinoma. LDHB downregulation increase aerobic glycolysis and lactagenesis in TAMs in response to tumor-derived miR-375. Lactagenesis reduced fatty acid synthesis but activated SREBP2, which enhanced cholesterol biosynthesis in macrophages. LDHB downregulation skewed TAMs to function as a lactate and sterol/oxysterol source for the proliferation of tumor cells. Restoring of LDHB expression potentiated inhibitory effects of simvastatin on tumor cell proliferation. Conclusion: Our findings identified a crucial role of LDHB in macrophages and established tumor-derived miR-375 as a novel regulator of macrophage metabolism in breast cancer, which might pave the way for strategies of combinatorial cancer cell/stroma cell interventions.
    • Structure-Activity Relationship and Mode-of-Action Studies Highlight 1-(4-Biphenylylmethyl)-1H-imidazole-Derived Small Molecules as Potent CYP121 Inhibitors.

      Walter, Isabell; Adam, Sebastian; Gentilini, Maria Virginia; Kany, Andreas M; Brengel, Christian; Thomann, Andreas; Sparwasser, Tim; Köhnke, Jesko; Hartmann, Rolf W; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany.; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-05-19)
      CYP121 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) is an essential target for the development of novel potent drugs against tuberculosis (TB). Besides known antifungal azoles, further compounds of the azole class were recently identified as CYP121 inhibitors with antimycobacterial activity. Herein, we report the screening of a similarity-oriented library based on the former hit compound, the evaluation of affinity toward CYP121, and activity against M. bovis BCG. The results enabled a comprehensive SAR study, which was extended through the synthesis of promising compounds and led to the identification of favorable features for affinity and/or activity and hit compounds with 2.7-fold improved potency. Mode of action studies show that the hit compounds inhibit substrate conversion and highlighted CYP121 as the main antimycobacterial target of our compounds. Exemplified complex crystal structures of CYP121 with three inhibitors reveal a common binding site. Engaging in both hydrophobic interactions as well as hydrogen bonding to the sixth iron ligand, our compounds block a solvent channel leading to the active site heme. Additionally, we report the first CYP inhibitors that are able to reduce the intracellular replication of M. bovis BCG in macrophages, emphasizing their potential as future drug candidates against TB.
    • Care of patients with liver disease during the COVID-19 pandemic: EASL-ESCMID position paper.

      Boettler, Tobias; Newsome, Philip N; Mondelli, Mario U; Maticic, Mojca; Cordero, Elisa; Cornberg, Markus; Berg, Thomas; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (Elsevier, 2020-04-02)
      The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic poses an enormous challenge to healthcare systems in affected communities. Older patients and those with pre-existing medical conditions have been identified as populations at risk of a severe disease course. It remains unclear at this point to what extent chronic liver diseases should be considered as risk factors, due to a shortage of appropriate studies. However, patients with advanced liver disease and those after liver transplantation represent vulnerable patient cohorts with an increased risk of infection and/or a severe course of COVID-19. In addition, the current pandemic requires unusual allocation of healthcare resources which may negatively impact the care of patients with chronic liver disease that continue to require medical attention. Thus, the challenge hepatologists are facing is to promote telemedicine in the outpatient setting, prioritise outpatient contacts, avoid nosocomial dissemination of the virus to patients and healthcare providers, and at the same time maintain standard care for patients who require immediate medical attention.
    • Cytotoxicity, Intracellular Replication, and Contact-Dependent Pore Formation of Genotyped Environmental Isolates from Hospital Water Systems in the West Bank, Palestine.

      Zayed, Ashraf R; Pecellin, Marina; Jaber, Lina; Butmeh, Suha; Bahader, Shereen A; Steinert, Michael; Höfle, Manfred G; Brettar, Ingrid; Bitar, Dina M; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2021-04-01)
      Legionella pneumophila is the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease. Due to the hot climate and intermittent water supply, the West Bank, Palestine, can be considered a high-risk area for this often fatal atypical pneumonia. L. pneumophila occurs in biofilms of natural and man-made freshwater environments, where it infects and replicates intracellularly within protozoa. To correlate the genetic diversity of the bacteria in the environment with their virulence properties for protozoan and mammalian host cells, 60 genotyped isolates from hospital water systems in the West Bank were analyzed. The L. pneumophila isolates were previously genotyped by high resolution Multi Locus Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA-8(12)) and sorted according to their relationship in clonal complexes (VACC). Strains of relevant genotypes and VACCs were compared according to their capacity to infect Acanthamoeba castellanii and THP-1 macrophages, and to mediate pore-forming cytotoxicity in sheep red blood cells (sRBCs). Based on a previous detailed analysis of the biogeographic distribution and abundance of the MLVA-8(12)-genotypes, the focus of the study was on the most abundant L. pneumophila- genotypes Gt4(17), Gt6 (18) and Gt10(93) and the four relevant clonal complexes [VACC1, VACC2, VACC5 and VACC11]. The highly abundant genotypes Gt4(17) and Gt6(18) are affiliated with VACC1 and sequence type (ST)1 (comprising L. pneumophila str. Paris), and displayed seroroup (Sg)1. Isolates of these two genotypes exhibited significantly higher virulence potentials compared to other genotypes and clonal complexes in the West Bank. Endemic for the West Bank was the clonal complex VACC11 (affiliated with ST461) represented by three relevant genotypes that all displayed Sg6. These genotypes unique for the West Bank showed a lower infectivity and cytotoxicity compared to all other clonal complexes and their affiliated genotypes. Interestingly, the L. pneumophila serotypes ST1 and ST461 were previously identified by in situ-sequence based typing (SBT) as main causative agents of Legionnaires' disease (LD) in the West Bank at a comparable level. Overall, this study demonstrates the site-specific regional diversity of L. pneumophila genotypes in the West Bank and suggests that a combination of MLVA, cellular infection assays and hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis allows an improved genotype-based risk assessment.
    • Direct conversion of porcine primary fibroblasts into hepatocyte-like cells.

      Fráguas-Eggenschwiler, Mariane; Eggenschwiler, Reto; Söllner, Jenny-Helena; Cortnumme, Leon; Vondran, Florian W R; Cantz, Tobias; Ott, Michael; Niemann, Heiner; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Nature Research, 2021-04-29)
      The pig is an important model organism for biomedical research, mainly due to its extensive genetic, physiological and anatomical similarities with humans. Until date, direct conversion of somatic cells into hepatocyte-like cells (iHeps) has only been achieved in rodents and human cells. Here, we employed lentiviral vectors to screen a panel of 12 hepatic transcription factors (TF) for their potential to convert porcine fibroblasts into hepatocyte-like cells. We demonstrate for the first time, hepatic conversion of porcine somatic cells by over-expression of CEBPα, FOXA1 and HNF4α2 (3TF-piHeps). Reprogrammed 3TF-piHeps display a hepatocyte-like morphology and show functional characteristics of hepatic cells, including albumin secretion, Dil-AcLDL uptake, storage of lipids and glycogen and activity of cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP1A2 and CYP2C33 (CYP2C9 in humans). Moreover, we show that markers of mature hepatocytes are highly expressed in 3TF-piHeps, while fibroblastic markers are reduced. We envision piHeps as useful cell sources for future studies on drug metabolism and toxicity as well as in vitro models for investigation of pig-to-human infectious diseases.
    • Plasma Metabolome Signature Indicative of Germline Status Independent of Cancer Incidence.

      Penkert, Judith; Märtens, Andre; Seifert, Martin; Auber, Bernd; Derlin, Katja; Hille-Betz, Ursula; Hörmann, Philipp; Klopp, Norman; Prokein, Jana; Schlicker, Lisa; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-04-07)
      Individuals carrying a pathogenic germline variant in the breast cancer predisposition gene BRCA1 (gBRCA1+) are prone to developing breast cancer. Apart from its well-known role in DNA repair, BRCA1 has been shown to powerfully impact cellular metabolism. While, in general, metabolic reprogramming was named a hallmark of cancer, disrupted metabolism has also been suggested to drive cancer cell evolution and malignant transformation by critically altering microenvironmental tissue integrity. Systemic metabolic effects induced by germline variants in cancer predisposition genes have been demonstrated before. Whether or not systemic metabolic alterations exist in gBRCA1+ individuals independent of cancer incidence has not been investigated yet. We therefore profiled the plasma metabolome of 72 gBRCA1+ women and 72 age-matched female controls, none of whom (carriers and non-carriers) had a prior cancer diagnosis and all of whom were cancer-free during the follow-up period. We detected one single metabolite, pyruvate, and two metabolite ratios involving pyruvate, lactate, and a metabolite of yet unknown structure, significantly altered between the two cohorts. A machine learning signature of metabolite ratios was able to correctly distinguish between gBRCA1+ and controls in ~82%. The results of this study point to innate systemic metabolic differences in gBRCA1+ women independent of cancer incidence and raise the question as to whether or not constitutional alterations in energy metabolism may be involved in the etiology of BRCA1-associated breast cancer.
    • NeutrobodyPlex-monitoring SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing immune responses using nanobodies.

      Wagner, Teresa R; Ostertag, Elena; Kaiser, Philipp D; Gramlich, Marius; Ruetalo, Natalia; Junker, Daniel; Haering, Julia; Traenkle, Bjoern; Becker, Matthias; Dulovic, Alex; et al. (EMBO Press, 2021-04-27)
      In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an ongoing need for diagnostic tools to monitor the immune status of large patient cohorts and the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns. Here, we present 11 unique nanobodies (Nbs) specific for the SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domain (RBD), of which 8 Nbs potently inhibit the interaction of RBD with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) as the major viral docking site. Following detailed epitope mapping and structural analysis, we select two inhibitory Nbs, one of which binds an epitope inside and one of which binds an epitope outside the RBD:ACE2 interface. Based on these, we generate a biparatopic nanobody (bipNb) with viral neutralization efficacy in the picomolar range. Using bipNb as a surrogate, we establish a competitive multiplex binding assay ("NeutrobodyPlex") for detailed analysis of the presence and performance of neutralizing RBD-binding antibodies in serum of convalescent or vaccinated patients. We demonstrate that NeutrobodyPlex enables high-throughput screening and detailed analysis of neutralizing immune responses in infected or vaccinated individuals, to monitor immune status or to guide vaccine design.
    • Conservation of the HBV RNA element epsilon in nackednaviruses reveals ancient origin of protein-primed reverse transcription.

      Beck, Jürgen; Seitz, Stefan; Lauber, Chris; Nassal, Michael; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Academy of Sciences, 2021-03-30)
      Hepadnaviruses, with the human hepatitis B virus as prototype, are small, enveloped hepatotropic DNA viruses which replicate by reverse transcription of an RNA intermediate. Replication is initiated by a unique protein-priming mechanism whereby a hydroxy amino acid side chain of the terminal protein (TP) domain of the viral polymerase (P) is extended into a short DNA oligonucleotide, which subsequently serves as primer for first-strand synthesis. A key component in the priming of reverse transcription is the viral RNA element epsilon, which contains the replication origin and serves as a template for DNA primer synthesis. Here, we show that recently discovered non-enveloped fish viruses, termed nackednaviruses [C. Lauber et al., Cell Host Microbe 22, 387-399 (2017)], employ a fundamentally similar replication mechanism despite their huge phylogenetic distance and major differences in genome organization and viral lifestyle. In vitro cross-priming studies revealed that few strategic nucleotide substitutions in epsilon enable site-specific protein priming by heterologous P proteins, demonstrating that epsilon is functionally conserved since the two virus families diverged more than 400 Mya. In addition, other cis elements crucial for the hepadnavirus-typical replication of pregenomic RNA into relaxed circular double-stranded DNA were identified at conserved positions in the nackednavirus genomes. Hence, the replication mode of both hepadnaviruses and nackednaviruses was already established in their Paleozoic common ancestor, making it a truly ancient and evolutionary robust principle of genome replication that is more widespread than previously thought.
    • Chemically Engineered Immune Cell-Derived Microrobots and Biomimetic Nanoparticles: Emerging Biodiagnostic and Therapeutic Tools

      Jahromi, Leila Pourtalebi; Shahbazi, Mohammad Ali; Maleki, Aziz; Azadi, Amir; Santos, Hélder A.; HIPS, Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland, Universitätscampus E8.1 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany. (Wiley-VCH, 2021-01-01)
      Over the past decades, considerable attention has been dedicated to the exploitation of diverse immune cells as therapeutic and/or diagnostic cell‐based microrobots for hard‐to‐treat disorders. To date, a plethora of therapeutics based on alive immune cells, surface‐engineered immune cells, immunocytes’ cell membranes, leukocyte‐derived extracellular vesicles or exosomes, and artificial immune cells have been investigated and a few have been introduced into the market. These systems take advantage of the unique characteristics and functions of immune cells, including their presence in circulating blood and various tissues, complex crosstalk properties, high affinity to different self and foreign markers, unique potential of their on‐demand navigation and activity, production of a variety of chemokines/cytokines, as well as being cytotoxic in particular conditions. Here, the latest progress in the development of engineered therapeutics and diagnostics inspired by immune cells to ameliorate cancer, inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular complications, and infectious diseases is reviewed, and finally, the perspective for their clinical application is delineated.
    • Clarithromycin impairs tissue-resident memory and Th17 responses to macrolide-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae infections.

      Lindenberg, Marc; Almeida, Luis; Dhillon-LaBrooy, Ayesha; Siegel, Ekkehard; Henriques-Normark, Birgitta; Sparwasser, Tim; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Springer, 2021-02-17)
      The increasing prevalence of antimicrobial resistance in pathogens is a growing public health concern, with the potential to compromise the success of infectious disease treatments in the future. Particularly, the number of infections by macrolide antibiotics-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae is increasing. We show here that Clarithromycin impairs both the frequencies and number of interleukin (IL)-17 producing T helper (Th) 17 cells within the lungs of mice infected with a macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae serotype 15A strain. Subsequently, the tissue-resident memory CD4+ T cell (Trm) response to a consecutive S. pneumoniae infection was impaired. The number of lung resident IL-17+ CD69+ Trm was diminished upon Clarithromycin treatment during reinfection. Mechanistically, Clarithromycin attenuated phosphorylation of the p90-S6-kinase as part of the ERK pathway in Th17 cells. Moreover, a strong increase in the mitochondrial-mediated maximal respiratory capacity was observed, while mitochondrial protein translation and mTOR sisgnaling were unimpaired. Therefore, treatment with macrolide antibiotics may favor the spread of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens not only by applying a selection pressure but also by decreasing the natural T cell immune response. Clinical administration of macrolide antibiotics as standard therapy procedure during initial hospitalization should be reconsidered accordingly and possibly be withheld until microbial resistance is determined. KEY MESSAGES: • Macrolide-resistant S. pneumoniae infection undergoes immunomodulation by Clarithromycin • Clarithromycin treatment hinders Th17 and tissue-resident memory responses • Macrolide antibiotics impair Th17 differentiation in vitro by ERK-pathway inhibition.
    • Selective Host Cell Death by Staphylococcus aureus : A Strategy for Bacterial Persistence.

      Missiakas, Dominique; Winstel, Volker; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Frontiers, 2021-01-21)
      Host cell death programs are fundamental processes that shape cellular homeostasis, embryonic development, and tissue regeneration. Death signaling and downstream host cell responses are not only critical to guide mammalian development, they often act as terminal responses to invading pathogens. Here, we briefly review and contrast how invading pathogens and specifically Staphylococcus aureus manipulate apoptotic, necroptotic, and pyroptotic cell death modes to establish infection. Rather than invading host cells, S. aureus subverts these cells to produce diffusible molecules that cause death of neighboring hematopoietic cells and thus shapes an immune environment conducive to persistence. The exploitation of cell death pathways by S. aureus is yet another virulence strategy that must be juxtaposed to mechanisms of immune evasion, autophagy escape, and tolerance to intracellular killing, and brings us closer to the true portrait of this pathogen for the design of effective therapeutics and intervention strategies.
    • Regulatory T Cells in an Endogenous Mouse Lymphoma Recognize Specific Antigen Peptides and Contribute to Immune Escape.

      Ahmetlić, Fatima; Riedel, Tanja; Hömberg, Nadine; Bauer, Vera; Trautwein, Nico; Geishauser, Albert; Sparwasser, Tim; Stevanović, Stefan; Röcken, Martin; Mocikat, Ralph; et al. (American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), 2019-03-20)
      Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs) sustain immune homeostasis and may contribute to immune escape in malignant disease. As a prerequisite for developing immunologic approaches in cancer therapy, it is necessary to understand the ontogeny and the antigenic specificities of tumor-infiltrating Tregs. We addressed this question by using a λ-MYC transgenic mouse model of endogenously arising B-cell lymphoma, which mirrors key features of human Burkitt lymphoma. We show that Foxp3+ Tregs suppress antitumor responses in endogenous lymphoma. Ablation of Foxp3+ Tregs significantly delayed tumor development. The ratio of Treg to effector T cells was elevated in growing tumors, which could be ascribed to differential proliferation. The Tregs detected were mainly natural Tregs that apparently recognized self-antigens. We identified MHC class II-restricted nonmutated self-epitopes, which were more prevalent in lymphoma than in normal B cells and could be recognized by Tregs. These epitopes were derived from proteins that are associated with cellular processes related to malignancy and may be overexpressed in the tumor.
    • Misinterpretation of the odds ratios.

      Fernández, Nathalie; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-05-11)
      No abstract available
    • Crystal structure of bacterial cytotoxic necrotizing factor CNFy reveals molecular building blocks for intoxication.

      Chaoprasid, Paweena; Lukat, Peer; Mühlen, Sabrina; Heidler, Thomas; Gazdag, Emerich-Mihai; Dong, Shuangshuang; Bi, Wenjie; Rüter, Christian; Kirchenwitz, Marco; Steffen, Anika; et al. (Springer, 2021-01-07)
      Cytotoxic necrotizing factors (CNFs) are bacterial single-chain exotoxins that modulate cytokinetic/oncogenic and inflammatory processes through activation of host cell Rho GTPases. To achieve this, they are secreted, bind surface receptors to induce endocytosis and translocate a catalytic unit into the cytosol to intoxicate host cells. A three-dimensional structure that provides insight into the underlying mechanisms is still lacking. Here, we determined the crystal structure of full-length Yersinia pseudotuberculosis CNFY . CNFY consists of five domains (D1-D5), and by integrating structural and functional data, we demonstrate that D1-3 act as export and translocation module for the catalytic unit (D4-5) and for a fused β-lactamase reporter protein. We further found that D4, which possesses structural similarity to ADP-ribosyl transferases, but had no equivalent catalytic activity, changed its position to interact extensively with D5 in the crystal structure of the free D4-5 fragment. This liberates D5 from a semi-blocked conformation in full-length CNFY , leading to higher deamidation activity. Finally, we identify CNF translocation modules in several uncharacterized fusion proteins, which suggests their usability as a broad-specificity protein delivery tool.
    • Relevance of inducible nitric oxide synthase for immune control of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis infection in mice.

      Abdissa, Ketema; Ruangkiattikul, Nanthapon; Ahrend, Wiebke; Nerlich, Andreas; Beineke, Andreas; Laarmann, Kristin; Janze, Nina; Lobermeyer, Ulrike; Suwandi, Abdulhadi; Falk, Christine; et al. (Taylor & Francis, 2020-05-14)
      Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) causes Johne's disease (JD), an incurable chronic intestinal bowel disease in ruminants. JD occurs worldwide and causes enormous economic burden in dairy industry. Research on JD pathobiology is hampered by its complexity which cannot completely be mimicked by small animal models. As a model the mouse allows dissecting some pathogenicity features of MAP. However, for unknown reasons MAP exhibits reduced growth in granulomas of infected mice compared to other Mycobacterium avium subspecies. Here, we characterized immune reactions of MAP-infected C57BL/6 mice. After infection, mice appeared fully immunocompetent. A strong antigen-specific T cell response was elicited indicated by IFNγ production of splenic T cells re-stimulated with MAP antigens. Function of splenic dendritic cells and proliferation of adoptively transferred antigen-specific CD4+ T cells was unaltered. Isolated splenic myeloid cells from infected mice revealed that MAP resides in CD11b+ macrophages. Importantly, sorted CD11b+CD11c- cells expressed high level of type 2 nitric oxide synthase (NOS2) but only low levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Correspondingly, MAP-infected MAC2 expressing myeloid cells in spleen and liver granuloma displayed strong expression of NOS2. In livers of infected Nos2-/-mice higher bacterial loads, more granuloma and larger areas of tissue damage were observed 5 weeks post infection compared to wild type mice. In vitro, MAP was sensitive to NO released by a NO-donor. Thus, a strong T cell response and concomitant NOS2/NO activity appears to control MAP infection, but allows development of chronicity and pathogen persistence. A similar mechanism might explain persistence of MAP in ruminants.
    • HBV evolution and genetic variability: Impact on prevention, treatment and development of antivirals.

      Glebe, Dieter; Goldmann, Nora; Lauber, Chris; Seitz, Stefan; TWINCORE, Zentrum für experimentelle und klinische Infektionsforschung GmbH,Feodor-Lynen Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany. (Elsevier, 2020-11-06)
      Hepatitis B virus (HBV) poses a major global health burden with 260 million people being chronically infected and 890,000 dying annually from complications in the course of the infection. HBV is a small enveloped virus with a reverse-transcribed DNA genome that infects hepatocytes and can cause acute and chronic infections of the liver. HBV is endemic in humans and apes representing the prototype member of the viral family Hepadnaviridae and can be divided into 10 genotypes. Hepadnaviruses have been found in all vertebrate classes and constitute an ancient viral family that descended from non-enveloped progenitors more than 360 million years ago. The de novo emergence of the envelope protein gene was accompanied with the liver-tropism and resulted in a tight virus-host association. The oldest HBV genomes so far have been isolated from human remains of the Bronze Age and the Neolithic (~7000 years before present). Despite the remarkable stability of the hepadnaviral genome over geological eras, HBV is able to rapidly evolve within an infected individual under pressure of the immune response or during antiviral treatment. Treatment with currently available antivirals blocking intracellular replication of HBV allows controlling of high viremia and improving liver health during long-term therapy of patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), but they are not sufficient to cure the disease. New therapy options that cover all HBV genotypes and emerging viral variants will have to be developed soon. In addition to the antiviral treatment of chronically infected patients, continued efforts to expand the global coverage of the currently available HBV vaccine will be one of the key factors for controlling the rising global spread of HBV. Certain improvements of the vaccine (e.g. inclusion of PreS domains) could counteract known problems such as low or no responsiveness of certain risk groups and waning anti-HBs titers leading to occult infections, especially with HBV genotypes E or F. But even with an optimal vaccine and a cure for hepatitis B, global eradication of HBV would be difficult to achieve because of an existing viral reservoir in primates and bats carrying closely related hepadnaviruses with zoonotic potential.
    • Recombinant protein production associated growth inhibition results mainly from transcription and not from translation.

      Li, Zhaopeng; Rinas, Ursula; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (BMC (part of Springer), 2020-04-06)
      Background: Recombinant protein production can be stressful to the host organism. The extent of stress is determined by the specific properties of the recombinant transcript and protein, by the rates of transcription and translation, and by the environmental conditions encountered during the production process. Results: The impact of the transcription of the T7-promoter controlled genes encoding human basic fibroblast growth factor (hFGF-2) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) as well as the translation into the recombinant protein on the growth properties of the production host E. coli BL21(DE3) were investigated. This was done by using expression vectors where the promoter region or the ribosome binding site(s) or both were removed. It is shown that already transcription without protein translation imposes a metabolic burden on the host cell. Translation of the transcript into large amounts of a properly folded protein does not show any effect on cell growth in the best case, e.g. high-level production of GFP in Luria-Bertani medium. However, translation appears to contribute to the metabolic burden if it is connected to protein folding associated problems, e.g. inclusion body formation. Conclusion: The so-called metabolic burden of recombinant protein production is mainly attributed to transcription but can be enhanced through translation and those processes following translation (e.g. protein folding and degradation, heat-shock responses).
    • Transcriptome profiling reveals Silibinin dose-dependent response network in non-small lung cancer cells.

      Kaipa, Jagan Mohan; Starkuviene, Vytaute; Erfle, Holger; Eils, Roland; Gladilin, Evgeny; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Peer J, 2020-12-16)
      Silibinin (SIL), a natural flavonolignan from the milk thistle (Silybum marianum), is known to exhibit remarkable hepatoprotective, antineoplastic and EMT inhibiting effects in different cancer cells by targeting multiple molecular targets and pathways. However, the predominant majority of previous studies investigated effects of this phytocompound in a one particular cell line. Here, we carry out a systematic analysis of dose-dependent viability response to SIL in five non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) lines that gradually differ with respect to their intrinsic EMT stage. By correlating gene expression profiles of NSCLC cell lines with the pattern of their SIL IC50 response, a group of cell cycle, survival and stress responsive genes, including some prominent targets of STAT3 (BIRC5, FOXM1, BRCA1), was identified. The relevancy of these computationally selected genes to SIL viability response of NSCLC cells was confirmed by the transient knockdown test. In contrast to other EMT-inhibiting compounds, no correlation between the SIL IC50 and the intrinsic EMT stage of NSCLC cells was observed. Our experimental results show that SIL viability response of differently constituted NSCLC cells is linked to a subnetwork of tightly interconnected genes whose transcriptomic pattern can be used as a benchmark for assessment of individual SIL sensitivity instead of the conventional EMT signature. Insights gained in this study pave the way for optimization of customized adjuvant therapy of malignancies using Silibinin.
    • Biogeography and Environmental Drivers of Abundance and Genotype Composition Across the West Bank: Relevance of a Genotype-Based Ecology for Understanding Occurrence.

      Zayed, Ashraf R; Butmeh, Suha; Pecellin, Marina; Salah, Alaa; Alalam, Hanna; Steinert, Michael; Höfle, Manfred G; Bitar, Dina M; Brettar, Ingrid; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (MDPI, 2020-12-01)
      The West Bank can be considered as a high-risk area for Legionella prevalence in drinking water due to high ambient temperature, intermittent water supply, frequent pressure loss, and storage of drinking water in roof containers. To assess occurrence of Legionella species, especially L. pneumophila, in the drinking water of the West Bank, the drinking water distribution systems of eight hospitals were sampled over a period of 2.3 years covering the seasonal cycle and the major geographic regions. To gain insight into potential environmental drivers, a set of physico-chemical and microbiological parameters was recorded. Sampling included drinking water and biofilm analyzed by culture and PCR-based methods. Cultivation led to the isolation of 180 strains of L. pneumophila that were genotyped by Multi-Locus Variable Number of Tandem Repeat Analysis (MLVA). Surprisingly, the abundance of culturable L. pneumophila was low in drinking water of the sampling sites, with only three out of eight sites where Legionella was observed at all (range: 30-500 CFU/liter). By contrast, biofilm and PCR-based analyses showed a higher prevalence. Statistical analyses with physico-chemical parameters revealed a decrease of L. pneumophila abundance for water and biofilm with increasing magnesium concentrations (>30 mg/l). MLVA-genotype analysis of the L. pneumophila isolates and their spatial distribution indicated three niches characterized by distinct physico-chemical parameters and inhabited by specific consortia of genotypes. This study provides novel insights into mechanisms shaping L. pneumophila populations and triggering their abundance leading to an understanding of their genotype-specific niches and ecology in support of improved prevention measures.